Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Face-Lift 589


Guess the Plot

Emergence of the Fey

1. An old comedy show finds new life in political satire, but ninety minutes of Alaska jokes won't cut it for an entire season. If Alec can somehow control The Emergence of the Fey, the Emmy is as good as his, but the Fey have their own ideas. Thirty Rock is about to collapse like a glacier in Prudhoe Bay.

2. It was her year, from her Emmy-winning show that she wrote, produced, directed, acted in, and scored, to her dead-on imitation of Sarah Palin. But after claiming to be close, personal friends with a woman who is dead, Tina experiences a setback. Can she make a comeback? Or will she be banished to Alaska?

3. Fey Incontinetti, the seventh daughter of a seventh son of a third cousin, develops mutant powers of telepathy as she whips around the globe arranging tours for famous celebrities. Will she find out the semi-truth about Madonna and Sting's love child? Or the real truth that the Baldwin Brothers as aliens from the planet Meedee-Ochre.

4. The Iron Hogs are the toughest motorcycle gang on the streets of L.A. But then MadDog Pinsky shows up to their annual meeting on a custom pink Harley trimmed with lace, and confesses that his real first name is Bruce. This sparks a round of revelations that will either strengthen the club, or destroy it.

5. When the Fey burn down her entire village, Marian is furious. With her family dead, can she set aside her anger to save the Fey goddess from the evil lumberjacks?

6. For countless millennia spring has been a time of birth, and flowers and hope. But for the town of Hiberron, every fiftieth year sees more than the usual honeysuckle and fawns. Can Hiberron survive yet another . . . Emergence of the Fey?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in Fantasy.

Marian thought the forest's secret was hers alone. An sorrowful entity that only she could hear and relate to. When her forest is targeted for lumber, she tries in vain to find a way to save it. The mythical and hidden Fey take matters into their own hands in order to save their goddess trapped within the trees. [What do you mean "trapped"? Who trapped her? The Fey can't free her?] [If you've created a world in which the Fey exist, I'm not sure you can still call them mythical.] They burn Marian's village to deal with the threat. [Was it the village that wanted the lumber?] Furious at the loss of her home, Marian unleashes a magic she didn't know she had. [Unleashes it upon the Fey? What does she do, exactly?]

Fey seek the hope of their race, a woman of mixed blood who can initiate the return of their goddess before their magic dies. The Enchanters fear the Fey goddess and kill every female born with magic in order to prevent her return. [Who or what are the Enchanters? You bring them up as if we already know all about them.] Marian must come to terms with her family's killers and evade the Enchanters, or she'll lose not only her magic, but her life. [Are the Fey her family's killers? Did they destroy the village while the people were asleep, burning them all alive? Because I think Marian would have a hard time coming to terms with that.]

EMERGENCE OF THE FEY is an adult fantasy, complete at 97,000 words. This is my first novel. I am a moderator for Writing.com, an online writing community. I have also served as the Fantasy Newsletter editor there.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Notes

The first plot sentence implies that someone besides Marian knows about the forest entity. Who?

Instead of telling us the Fey seek a woman of mixed blood, tell us they seek a woman with magic, so it'll be more obvious Marian is that woman.

I think this needs a reorganization. Something along these lines:
The Fey have long sought the last hope of their race, a woman of magical powers who can free their goddess, trapped in the sap of a pine tree deep in the forest. When an international lumber consortium moves in to clear-cut the pine forest, the Fey spring into action, burning down a nearby village to distract them. Marian Smythe-Lipinsky, upon discovering that her family have been burned alive in the fire, unleashes a magic she didn't know she had, sending a tidal wave of fireballs at the Fey and wiping out half of their numbers.

Now realizing that Marian must be the savior they've been awaiting, the Fey beg her to free their goddess before their magic dies. But time is short. The Enchanters, a race of lizard creatures from Mars, fear the Fey, and are killing off all females with magical powers.

If Marian can set aside the haunting vision of her parents and siblings screaming as they're consumed by a Fey inferno--and evade the Enchanters--she might be able to save the Fey goddess. Why she would want to, of course, is another question entirely.

See, it's better with the specifics added.

If Marian herself didn't know she had magic, how do the Enchanters know who has magic?

Shouldn't Marion be the goddess? That she can free the goddess from the sap is okay, but is that her main goal in the book? What does she care about the Fey? They burned down her village. They could have just burned down the lumber company.


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd leave off those credits at the end. They're more a bat signal for 'Too Much Free Time' than anything else.

Cool story though.

freddie said...

Marian thought the forest's secret was hers alone. An sorrowful entity that only she could hear and relate to.

If you choose to leave the query as-is, at least change these two sentences. It's not "AN sorrowful entity"—it's "A sorrowful entity." Not to mention, second sentence isn't even a full sentence. I'd put a comma in front of it and link the two sentences. Also, don't end with "to." Sloppy writing. Here's what I'd write:

Marian thought the forest's secret was hers alone, a sorrowful entity to which only she could relate.

I'd leave out "hear."

This may sound like nitpicking, but these kinds of errors will cause an agent to lay aside your query in a hurry.

150 said...

They burn Marian's village to deal with the threat.

Yes, because when people want lumber, the best thing to do is take away all the lumber they already have.

Whirlochre said...

If I could put my finger on what's going on here, I might want to turn the page.

Fey, I like — but the query itself is fey, and that I don't like.

If your creations draw succour from the hearts of trees, don't beat about the bush telling us about them.

benwah said...

Thanks, 150. Your comment make me do a spit take with my coffee.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing useful re:the query but I'd like mention that I thought the GTP's regarding Tina were great!

chelsea said...

This query inspired a number of questions that I felt I wanted answered before I'd be interested in reading the book:

1. What is the forest's secret? (The query answers this later, I think: the goddess in the tree. But it takes quite a while to come back to it, which means all the while, I'm wondering what the stakes are for Marian.

2. Why would the fey burn down the village to save the forest? (I think 150 said it first and best.) Besides this feeling irrational, it is beyond hypocritical. It's like saying, "I don't want you to kill me, so I shoot you in the face! Ha!" Or something to that effect. Which brings me to:

3. Do the Fey have magic they could have used to stop the lumberjacks (that isn't related to great balls of fire)? If they have a specific reason for using fire rather than any other enchantment, fine, but as it is, burning down the village feels like a very human reaction.

4. What do you mean by "mixed blood"? Half human half fey? Half English half Portugese? I really don't know and it makes me very very curious.

5. Who are the Enchanters and why are they such assholes? Seriously, what's up with that? And another thing: THEY are magical (I am assuming, because of their name) but they are killing girls who happen to be magical. That's just in poor taste.

6. If Marian is full grown and magical, why don't the Enchanters know? Your statements about the Enchanters killing girls makes me think this happens when the girls are young, but Marian discovers her power by accident. So how exactly do the Enchanters recognize the magical girls? And along the same line:

7. Why does Marian need to EVADE the Enchanters? That seems a sort of half-assed reaction on her part. Why doesn't she want to destroy them or something to that effect? And lastly:

8. Why in the world would she help the Fey after they killed her family? I don't really understand how this benefits her.

The statement that Marian could lose, not only her magic, but her life, didn't make a lot of sense to me. She only just discovered her magic, plus the way it's written implies there's a scenario in which she would lose her magic but not her life - hence the phrase, "not only her magic, but her life."

I think the main issue here (besides announcing the forest's secret and then not mentioning again until way later) is that there's a LOT going on here. That's fine for a novel, but it makes a query murky. My best advice is to leave out the part about the Enchanters completely. There are plenty of stakes between the fey and the humans and the lumberjacks and the goddess. I don't think the Enchanters need to be mentioned in the query in order for an agent to grasp what the book is about and what is at stake.

This sounds a lot like something I'd enjoy reading.

Feywriter said...

Queries are tough! The village wanting the lumber is the inciting incident, but the main conflict is between Marian, the Fey, and the Enchanters. I had a longer version once that explained the backstory, but was told to drop that and focus on the conflict. Maybe I need to go back to the longer one...

Feywriter said...

And I am thoroughly embarrassed by the early typo. It used to say "An entity", and when I added "sorrowful"... well, pays to double and triple check.

Xiexie said...

Feywriter,

Could we see the longer one?

writtenwyrdd said...

A couple of things struck me strongly in this. First, I Think you should ditch all but the last paragraph. Second, you call this an adult novel, and novel will just do; but it sounds like a YA novel. And third, we are talking about a village (a few hundred people at best) versus an entire forest, and the forest thinks it will lose?

As it stands, I wouldn't want to read the book based on the letter, but you have lots of comments providing good insights to help you improve,so good luck with it!

Feywriter said...

Longer version:

A powerful enchanter and the Fey Goddess fell in love. The Enchanter Council feared the power that could come from their union and declared war on the Fey, culminating in a forest battle. The Fey about to be destroyed, the enchanter sacrificed himself, casting a spell upon the forest to protect it and in the process banishing the goddess. His last words declared a prophecy that in 100 years the spell would weaken, enabling a woman of both Fey and enchanter blood to bring about the goddess' return.

All this is unknown to Marian, merely an herbalist's daughter. In her life, the Fey are merely myths, whereas reality has her struggling with the knowledge her abusive father may not be her true father. The forest surrounding the village is her safe haven. When that forest is targeted for lumber, she fights to prevent it. The only result in her fight is a new bond with her mother. The Fey are successful where she is not. They burn the village, her mother sleeping inside, to protect the forest. Shocked and furious at the loss of her mother, Marian unleashes a magic she didn't know she had.

That same magic is a death sentence if discovered by the Enchanters Council. Even if she hides it, it is a part of her. Her magic makes her feel so alive--a connection to the air and animals, and a way to enhance her work as a healer. Fey approach her with suspicions she is the hope of their people. If the ritual isn't performed in time, any of Fey blood will lose their magic as the final remnants of their goddess' spirit disappear. Marian must choose to either save those who killed her mother or lose the magic that has defined her.

Xiexie said...

Here's my attempt Feywriter. (Did I get in the ballpark?)

In Marian’s life, the Fey are merely myths, but she knows that the forest surrounding her village holds another secret. Within lives a sorrowful entity to which only she can relate.

When the townspeople begin chopping down the forest for lumber, Marian tries in vain to save it. Unbeknownst to her the Fey are very real, and they are successful where she is not. They set fire to the village, protecting the forest. Shocked and furious at the loss of her home, Marian unleashes a magic she didn’t know she had.

Upon seeing her magic, the Fey realize that Marian is the [enter magicky adjective here] person who can reawaken the goddess within the forest, saving them from an impending doom. Can Marian overcome her loss and realize her destiny?

150 said...

You were right to not include the backstory. IMHO a query should all be action and reaction, so I'm going to try to rewrite it along those lines.

----

For Marian, her only escape from peasant life and an abusive father is the peace of Around-The-Village Forest. When the villagers decide to sacrifice their forest for lumber, she is devastated. She fights to save it, but someone gets there first: the supposed-mythological Fey, who burn the village in preemptive defense of their home.

The fire may have saved Marian's forest, but it destroyed her home...and her mother. The loss triggers Marian's latent magical powers, which attract the attention of the Fey, who see her as a savior, and her own people, who see her as an abomination. As the government hunts her down, Marian must choose between saving her mothers' murders and being murdered herself.

EMERGENCE OF THE FEY is an adult fantasy, complete at 97,000 words, blah blah...

150 said...

mother's murders = mother's murderers, obviously. Gosh I'm sharp.

chelsea said...

Oh oh oh! Can I try? Can I?

Ok here goes:

* * *

Marian spends her days avoiding her father's fist and struggling to free the goddess imprisoned in the forest beside her village. She has no knowledge of the ancient war waging between two forest races, the Fey and the Enchanters, but the war is brought to her when the Fey burn down her village, killing her entire family.

In Emergence of the Fey, a 95,000-word fantasy, Marian must choose a course of action, and fast. Will she join forces with the creatures who killed her family, and help them free the imprisoned goddess? Or will she forsake the goddess and let her fall prey to the cruel Enchanters, who will stop at nothing to destroy all other magical beings?

* * *

Yes that was much more fun than writing queries for my own stuff. Funny, that.

So. If that helps, good. If not, perhaps it'll be good for a laugh. :)

Feywriter said...

Thanks for all the help, everyone. *goes back to drawing board*